KISSIMMEE, Fla., Nov. 16, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- In an overwhelming and emphatic statement of support, registered nurses at Osceola Regional Medical Center in Kissimmee, FL voted by 92 percent Monday night to join the nation's largest organization of registered nurses to build a stronger, unified voice for nurses in securing strong protections for patients and improved standards for RNs.
In a secret ballot election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency that oversees labor relations, the Osceola RNs voted 354 to 30 to join National Nurses Organizing Committee-Florida, an affiliate of National Nurses United, the country's biggest union and professional association of registered nurses.
Some 550 RNs will be represented by NNOC-Florida at the Orlando area hospital which is part of HCA (Hospital Corporation of America), the nation's largest hospital system. The vote is a dramatic step forward for NNOC-Florida RNs who have become a regular presence in state legislative campaigns for enhancing patient care protections.
Osceola is the first of several HCA hospitals in Florida where RNs will be voting in the coming weeks on affiliating with NNOC-Florida/NNU. Their votes follow a wave of election wins earlier this year by HCA RNs in Texas, Missouri, and Nevada who also cast ballots for NNU affiliates, continuing a remarkable year of growth for the NNU which has won representation elections for over 6,500 RNs this year.
"What a monumental day for nurses and patients in Florida," said Malinda Markowitz, RN, a national vice president of NNU and chair of NNU's HCA RN Council. "HCA RNs are uniting across the country to win dramatic gains for patients and nurses that will strengthen the quality of care and protect all of our communities. We could not be more proud of our Florida pioneers at Osceola."
Nurses at Osceola were also celebrating the election.
"I became an RN to be a patient advocate, and through NNOC-Florida, Osceola RNs can truly put patients first. With the support of all our colleagues, we can work together to build nurse power and strengthen our voice in our hospital and beyond," said Labor and Delivery RN Sharon Bray.
"As a previous union member, I have seen firsthand how a union contract can secure wages and benefits in a workplace," added Vernon Ligad, Operating Room RN at Osceola.
The Osceola RNs will next focus on choosing nurse leaders to represent them in contract talks and targeting such issues as RN-to-patient staffing ratios, a patient care monitoring committee chosen and run by direct care RNs, and improved health coverage and retirement benefits.
SOURCE National Nurses Organizing Committee-Florida